Control Difficulty: Very Easy [✦✧✧✧✧]
Identifying Traits: Dandelion is the most widely known weed in the united states. It is easily identified by its large yellow flowers. After maturity the flowers turn into a large white puff ball of seeds. The seeds are easily blown off of the plant and can be carried for miles to new lawns. The flower head can stand anywhere from one inch to ten inches from the surface. The leaf at the base of the plant is lobed and grows in a rosette or circle. The stem leading up to the flower is very fleshy and oozes a white, milky sap. The sap has some curative properties for humans, treating minor cuts and scrapes.
Where and When:
Dandelions appear all season long but spring is the most noticeable time, usually beginning in late April. In southern states dandelion can grow all winter long. Dandelions prefer wet soil and are sometimes a sign of over watering. Look to the wet areas in a property for dandelions, but do not discount a hot dry area as potential habitat.
Dandelion is very easily controlled with any broad leaf herbicide. I usually start by using Triplet Low Odor at the lowest label rate, on my choice product, triplet, it is 1.1 Oz per thousand square feet. You can use any product that has 24-d as an active ingredient, just look on the product label for 2-4-D. The best time of year to treat dandelions is when they are in flower. A light misting of the dandelion with a broadleaf herbicide will curl up dandelions in a day or so and within a week it should be completely dead. You can also tank mix the herbicide with fertilizer when treating the lawn or use a dry granular product containing 2 4- D, like “scotts” products. Even if the dandelions are done flowering and all that remains is the rosette you can still control them, but you may need to increase the application rate.
Organic Control Methods for Dandelions:
Hand pulling dandelion is almost pointless. It takes a lot of effort and often the weed will regrow because of the deep taproot, which extends up to two feet into the ground. If any portion of the taproot remains it will resprout. You can work to stay ahead of the regrowth but it is difficult. Frequent mowing can help mask the sight of the flower portion. You can also work to create good conditions for preventing dandelions from taking root. Mowing the turf very high, seeding annually, and trying to dry out the soil with proper drainage will help prevent further germination. Torching dandelions or freezing them has mixed results, it usually won’t damage the taproot. The final organic option is using an organic weed control product like Fiesta, here is a link to green industry pros review of fiesta. Fiesta is an organic weed control that uses a dose of iron that kills weeds. It can be spotty in its effectiveness but dandelions are very sensitive and one of the weeds it does work well on.
Notes: Dandelion is a famous forage plant and tastes great according to some. It is often used in salads and has a somewhat bitter sweet taste. If you are interested in eating dandelion make sure it comes from an untreated area or organic lawn and just pull the weed and eat the leafy parts. The stems are also edible but I would not try the tap root.